NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

A four-month program of well-drilling to test groundwater in areas surrounding the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for possible contamination has been completed, according to the Laboratory's Environmental Affairs Office.

The program of groundwater sampling, designed to comply with requirements under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program, involved drilling five test wells in residential areas of Altadena and in park and reservoir areas near the Laboratory that are owned by the city of Pasadena.

The private consulting firm of Foster Wheeler Environmental, Corp., Costa Mesa, Calif., drilled the wells and is now undertaking two rounds of groundwater sample collection, according to Charles Buril, manager of JPL's Environmental Affairs Office. After the first round of groundwater samples is collected, JPL must wait three months before beginning the second phase of collection under requirements of state and federal regulatory agencies.

The two sets of sample collections will then be analyzed by a second environmental consultant, Montgomery Laboratories of Pasadena, Calif., with results of those tests expected to be available to JPL in about six months, Buril said.

Once the data have been analyzed, JPL will weigh various alternative solutions and propose an appropriate cleanup plan to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as to state and local environmental agencies.

Located on 176 acres of federal property, the Laboratory is not eligible for Environmental Protection Agency funding for the groundwater sampling work or any future cleanup program that might become necessary. Rather, JPL's environmental monitoring and testing is supported with funds from its present federal sponsor, NASA.

Two of the five groundwater monitoring wells are located on residential streets in Altadena. A third was constructed in the parking lot of the Altadena Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the last two were installed in Oak Grove Park and an area of the Windsor Reservoir that is owned by the city of Pasadena.

The drill rigs used to install the wells were removed recently and the wells were covered with small steel manhole plates that will allow technicians access to the groundwater for future sampling and monitoring.

While this work was going on, informational bulletins were mailed out to the local community by the Laboratory to improve communication with residents and solicit their ideas about environmental concerns associated with the Laboratory in general.

Residents interested in receiving updates on the progress of JPL's environmental monitoring program are encouraged to call (818) 354-0112 or write to the Public Services Office, Mail Stop 186-113, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, Calif., 91109.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is operated by the California Institute of Technology under contract to NASA. Its primary mission is the exploration of the solar system with robotic spacecraft.

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